COLUMBUS GROVE — Bluffton’s game plan was to limit Columbus Grove’s
big three, Paige Bellman, Jade Clement and Macy McCluer, scoring and
make other girls pick up the load. It didn’t take long for the Pirates
game plan to go down the drain.
Behind 11 first quarter points
from sophomore guard Rylee Sybert and a three-pointer from Lauren
Schroeder, the Bulldogs bolted out to a big lead and were never
challenged in recording a 69-24 Northwest Conference win Thursday night.
the win, Columbus Grove, fifth ranked in Division III, repeats as
outright NWC champion with an 8-0 record and are 20-1 overall. The
Pirates dropped to 7-1 in the NWC and 16-6 overall. The Lady Bulldogs
have now won 13 straight games since a one point loss to Ottawa-Glandorf
“I’m just happy for the girls,” Columbus Grove coach
Brian Schroeder said. “It was really cool that it came down to the last
game, both communities came out to support their team, it was a great
environment. We were lucky enough to come away with it.”
Grove missed their first three shots of the game, but it didn’t take
long for the Bulldogs to take command of the game as Bellman scored on
an offensive rebound to start the scoring and Clement later hit a
three-pointer for a quick 5-0 lead. Sybert then took over scoring 11
points the rest of the quarter as she knocked down three three-pointers
and went coast to coast for a layup after getting a rebound.
Schroeder came off the bench to hit a three-pointer and Columbus Grove
was able to turn two Pirate turnovers into points as the Bulldogs had a
27-4 lead after eight minutes.
“Bluffton switches defenses up
quite a bit and we felt they would come out with something we hadn’t
seen before,” coach Schroeder said. “They left a couple of girls open
and Rylee Sybert just had herself a quarter with 11 points. In big games
like this, I think it’s important to start fast and everything just
seems to get easier. Once someone starts hitting shots, it’s contagious
and everything starts snowballing.”
While the Bulldog offense came
out firing, hitting 5-of-8 first quarter three’s, the Pirates could
never solve Columbus Grove’s aggressive 2-3 zone. The Pirates were just
1-of-13 shooting the first half, a three-pointer by Katie Prater in the
first quarter, and turned the ball over 16 times. For the game, Bluffton
finished 5-of-9 from two-point range, but just 8-of-28 overall (28
percent) with 28 turnovers.
“I thought our defensive intensity was
great holding them to six points in the first half,” Schroeder said.
“Bluffton is a great shooting team and I thought we did a nice job
covering the perimeter. Our perimeter players did a good job of locating
their three-point shooters and Paige was inside communicating to them.”
managed only two points, two free throws, in the second quarter as the
Bulldogs outscored them 18-2 as six different players scored for Grove
in the quarter. Columbus Grove started the third quarter with an 8-2 run
as coach Schroeder pulled his starters with 3:40 left in the quarter.
The Bulldogs still managed a 13-4 scoring run as Bluffton reached double
digits with 2:55 left in the quarter.
“We were trying to take
away Bellman, Clement and even (Macy) McCluer to make the Sybert and
Schroeder girls beat us,” Bluffton coach Eric Garmatter said. “The girls
we wanted to take the shots missed a couple of early, but they were
just getting too many offensive rebounds, then they started hitting
those shots. It just snowballed from there. And they just extended us so
far, defensively, and wore us out as we are not very deep.”
Clement led the Bulldogs with 14 points, while Sybert had 11 points and Bellman 10 points, nine rebounds and five steals.
Abbie Parkins had eight points to lead the Pirates, six of them coming in the fourth quarter on two three-pointers.
Saturday afternoon the Bulldogs will have a chance at an outright Putnam County League title as they host rival Pandora-Gilboa at 1 p.m. The Bulldogs are currently 6-0 in the PCL.
* * *
Bluffton 8-28 5-8 24:
Alivia Koenig 1-1-3; Abbie Parkins 2-2-8; Averey Rumer 2-0-4; Katie
Prater 1-0-3; Kayla White 0-0-0; Libby Schaddt 1-2-4; Brinkley Garmatter
Columbus Grove 26-46 7-13 69: Macy
McCluer 3-0-8; Jenny Ellerbrock 2-0-4; Rylee Sybert 4-0-11; Lauren
Birkemeier 2-0-5; Jade Clement 5-2-14; Danielle Caudill 0-0-0; Carlee
McCluer 0-3-3; Lauren Schroeder 2-0-6; Grace Schroeder 1-0-2; Hallie
Malsam 1-1-3; Paige Bellman 5-0-10; Amy Vorst 1-1-3.
Bluffton 4 2 4 14 - 24
Columbus Grove 27 18 13 11 - 69
goals: Bluffton 3-19 (Parkins 2, Prater 1); Columbus Grove 10-20 (M.
McCluer 2, Sybert 3, Birkemeier 1, Clement 2, L. Schroeder 2).
Rebounds: Bluffton 18; Columbus Grove 27 (Bellman 9).
Turnovers: Bluffton 28, Columbus Grove 10.